George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police in the US sparked protests around the world. The anger and anguish brought on by anti-racist behaviour can be hard to understand and digest, especially if you’ve had the privilege of being far removed from the real-world issues of race and discrimination.
Given the current climate, there’s never been a better time to educate yourself via books (and the hundreds of articles available online) that delve into the subject of race.
Choosing a book that talks about race for your next book club read is a good option. Pedestrian Group’s iso book club is doing the same — there’s no better education than open discussions with the people around you who may have differing opinions or experiences to your own.
To help you get started, here’s a list of books you could start reading.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
British writer Eddo-Lodge’s debut novel published in 2017 came off the back of a blog she wrote in February 2014 also titled Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. In it she wrote: “I couldn’t have a conversation with white folks about the details of a problem if they didn’t want to recognise that the problem exists. Worse still was the white person who might be willing to entertain the possibility of said racism but still thinks we enter this conversation as equals. We didn’t then, and we don’t now.”
The post went viral and received widespread response. A galvanised Eddo-Lodge decided to expand the discussion of what it means to be a person of colour in Britain into the book Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. She elaborately covers issues that dive into eradicated black history, white privilege, whitewashing feminism and more.
Freedom Is A Constant Struggle by Angela Davis
Davis, an activist and scholar, has fought against oppression for decades. In Freedom Is A Constant Struggle, originally published in 1974, she uses essays, interviews and speeches to discuss struggles and oppression throughout history and across the world. She uses the Black Freedom Movement and South African anti-Apartheid movement as well as state terror in Palestine and Ferguson as examples.
With protests taking place in at least U.S. 140 cities over the last week sparked by the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, we thought it was time to look at other demonstrations and riots throughout American history. And given the potential risks to personal safety—not to mention large gatherings in the midst of a pandemic—people may wonder whether participating in protests can actually make a difference. In short: they can.Read more
Biased by Jennifer L. Eberhardt
Psychology professor Jennifer L. Eberhardt uses her book Biased to showcase how even when we’re trying our hardest to treat everyone equally, there are certain ingrained stereotypes that can impact our behaviour. Published in 2019, this book is an important reminder that no one is immune to implicit bias.
Nigger: An Autobiography by Dick Gregory
Dick Gregory, a comedian and civil rights activist, uses his autobiography, Nigger, which he co-authored with Robert Lipsyte, to change the way race was discussed in the US. It has been described by The New York Times as “powerful and ugly and beautiful…a moving story of a man who deeply wants a world without malice and hate and is doing something about it.”
It’s been reprinted many times since 1965 and has sold over a million copies.
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi
Arguably the most relevant book for our times, How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi, a well-respected scholar in the US, is a striking memoir that highlights we’re either racist or antiracist — there’s no grey area in between. Instead of documenting the wrongdoings of others, Kendi points fingers at himself. He also analyses the efforts it takes to be anti-racist and dispels the notions its born out of ignorance.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The 2015 non-fiction book Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates is written in a letter-like form to his son about America’s relationship with race and he touches upon slavery and segregation to make his point. In the book, Coates tries to explain (and answer): “This is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.”
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Angie Thomas’ debut novel, The Hate U Give, published in 2017 is aimed at young adults and is an expansion of a short story she wrote back in college following the police shooting in Oakland, California of 22-year-old African-American man, Oscar Grant. Her novel’s also been inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and is a take on what prejudice is like in the 21st century.
Speculative fiction is the literature of change and discovery. But every now and then, a book comes along that changes the rules of science fiction for everybody.Read more